Coal to stay most significant energy source even by 2040: World Coal Association chief

Sunil Chaturvedi, Chairman Gainwell Engineering & Ms. Michelle Manook CEO, World Coal Association. | Photo Credit: Debasish Bhaduri

Coal is not going away and will remain the most significant energy contributor in the energy sector even by 2040, Michelle Manook, CEO, World Coal Association (WCA), said on Thursday.

Ms. Manook was speaking in Kolkata at an event where the WCA announced a partnership with Gainwell Engineering to promote sustainable coal mining in India.

“There is a future for coal and with the current confluence of energy events that you are seeing, there is very much an understanding and a belief that the energy trilemma is something that really needs to be addressed. This is about affordability, energy security and reliability,“ she said.

Ms. Manook pointed out that even the International Energy Association’s projections for 2040 was that coal would still be the ‘most significant contributor’ at around  22-23%. “Energy pie will get bigger but coal will still be an important part of the pie,” she added. The remarks come at a time when the world is trying to move away from coal towards renewable energy to achieve ‘net zero’ emission levels.

The CEO of global advisory body WCA added that India had brought ‘pragmatism’ to the debate around the coal. “WCA applauds India’s position towards the issue of phasing down of unabated coal as against phasing out coal. Coal is still the world’s largest source of energy. Recent and current events reconfirm that coal is still needed and not on a decline. Coal is not disappearing; it is simply transitioning to a more sustainable model,” Ms. Manook added.

At the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) summit held last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that India would aim to attain net zero emissions by 2070. Mr. Modi also announced that India would draw 50% of its consumed energy from renewable sources by 2030, and cut carbon emissions by a billion tonnes by the same year. According to the Economic Survey 2021-22, coal demand in India is projected in the range of 1.3-1.5 billion tonnes by 2030, an increase of 63% from the current demand.

Panagarh plant

Sunil Chaturvedi, chairman, Gainwell Engineering, welcomed his organisation’s membership to the WCA, and added that while concerns over climate change and air pollution had highlighted the need to pursue a more sustainable path forward, “no discussion of global climate change can ignore India, and no discussion of India’s energy future can ignore coal”.

Dipankar Banerjee, chief operating officer, mining business, Gainwell Engineering, said the company would invest about ₹500 crore to build its underground mining equipment manufacturing plant in the Panagarh Industrial Estate in West Bengal. The plant will come up on a 35-acre piece of land and the first phase will be completed by the first quarter of 2023. The company will manufacture machinery for underground coal mining, material handling and railway equipment. Gainwell Engineering has entered into a technology licensing agreement for building such equipment with global firm Caterpillar.

Asked about the closure of the underground mines of Coal India, the world’s largest coal miner, Mr. Banerjee said 44% of the company was involved in underground mining but only 3.7% of its production was from such mines, which suffer losses. Officials of Gainwell Engineering, however, added that Coal India was looking for 50 new underground mines where technology and machinery can play an important role.

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Printable version | Apr 28, 2022 8:06:44 pm |